Roll, Don't Fold (and 10 Other Tricks for Packing Fast)

by Anna Newell Jones on 26 August 2013 4 comments

Packing for a trip can be daunting and tedious. I usually wait until the very last minute to do it. While packing last minute can add stress to the situation it does provide a few benefits, too. Namely, I'm forced to concentrate on the task at hand. (See also: Vacation Hack: 7 Tips for Single Bag Travel)

When it comes to packing fast the key is all in the preparation. While it's best to wait to pack until it's close to the time you'll be heading out (so you don't have to live out of your suitcase and so you lower your chances of accidentally leaving those "pulled" items at home) something you can do beforehand is to prepare a packing list. So let's start there!

1. Create a Packing List

Keep a template packing list, so you can whip it out and modify it before each trip. A packing list is also great because you can just keep items on the list that you always seem to forget.

But to really reap the benefits of your list, you've got to put it to use.

2. Do Your Laundry Before You Pack

You don't want to be looking for substitutions for your favorite dress or jeans just because they are in the dirty clothes hamper. By doing laundry before you start packing, you'll have all your clothes ready to go if you decide you will be needing them on the trip.

3. Lay Everything Out

If you can see all the items that you're working with, then you'll be able to make decisions faster about what is and is not needed.

4. Pack All at Once, the Night Before

Don't drag out the packing process over multiple days. It's kind of like ripping off a bandage; you've got to do it in one fell swoop.

5. Set a Time Limit

By giving yourself a time limit you can turn the packing experience into a game. Try to compete against yourself and the clock. By setting a time limit you will also be able to minimize any dilly-dallying and self-sabotaging procrastination tactics.

6. Choose an Appropriately Sized Bag or Suitcase

Nothing's worse (and more time-consuming) than trying to fit everything into one bag only to realize you don't have enough space and have to move everything to a different bag or suitcase.

7. Keep Your Travel-Sized Stuff Together

Save time by knowing where your travel containers are. This way you won't be hunting all over your house to find them when it comes time to pack. (See also: 21 Disposable Products You Can Reuse)

8. Roll Instead of Fold

Simply put, rolling is faster than folding.

9. Choose Versatile Items

While it can be more time-consuming to consider the multiple uses of one item, you'll ultimately save time both on the packing and un-packing sides of your trip because you'll be including fewer items. Include clothes that can be dressed up or down and items that have multiple uses such as an all-in-one body wash and shampoo. (See also: Guide to Better Style: The Curated Closet)

10. Think Simple and Reliable

Trips and vacations aren't the time to get adventurous with your clothing and accessories. Stick with what you know you feel good in and what you'll really wear. That bright, patterned shirt that still has its tags on it is a nice idea in theory, but we both know it's not going to get worn. It's only going to taken along and pushed aside every time you go to pick out your outfit for the day. Stick to your classic standbys.

11. Keep Calm

If you're frenzied and worried, you will add time to the packing process. Go easy on yourself. Take deep breaths and minimize stress by doing your prep work ahead of time. That packing list is your biggest asset in a speedy packing process.

What tips do you have for packing fast?

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Guest's picture
Olivia

Love your suggestions.

If you are going through customs put your clothes in several 2 gallon sized zip lock bags. You can roll clothes, put them in, and squash the air out before closing totally. Saves time if the customs official opens your bag up to inspect it. Plus you have a bag to put your dirty stuff in.

Taking hand wash and quick dry undies and socks is a real space saver. Camping/travel supply places carry them. I got ours mail order from Campmor.

Guest's picture

Good tips. My wife is a big list maker. She will make sure that she and our son are ready to go the night before. I usually just stuff my clothes and supplies in a large overnight bag and I'm good to go. We are going to Hawaii later this year. The main thing for a Hawaiian vacation is that we need to have some space in our luggage to bring back things like Hawaiian shirts and macadamia nuts.

Guest's picture

Great suggestions! I've been a roller (instead of a folder) for a long time.

I try to remember to replenish my toiletries bag when I get home from a trip. So when it's time for the next trip, I'm set to go. Even the cheap hotels provide shampoo, so that's one thing I never pack.

Bon voyage!

Guest's picture
Diane

One thing you can do in advance is pack your toiletries bag. I keep mine packed at all times, so I check and replace things as needed after each trip.

I also keep duplicates of some things that I keep packed~ a travel flat iron, a round brush, my yoga (exercise or lounge) pants, underwear & socks, a pair of cuddl duds for winter trips. Those are always in my bag.

I keep my chargers for travel packed in a zipper bag~ camera charger & extra phone charger.